RealNews

Better at Languages, U.S. Spy Agencies Still Lag

Since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, American intelligence agencies have doubled or even tripled the number of Arabic and Persian linguists on their payrolls, but “much remains to be done” to address a remaining shortfall, a senior intelligence official has told Congress. Among the sharpest increases was at the National Security Agency, which hired seven times as many foreign-language speakers last year as in 1999, a senior official from that agency said in separate testimony. A report issued last year by the joint Congressional committee looking into the Sept. 11 attacks described the Central Intelligence Agency and other spy agencies as being at 30 percent of the capacity they need in Arabic, Persian, Pashto, Urdu and other languages considered critical to national security. The language deficiency “definitely contributed to our lack of preparation prior to the Sept. 11 attacks” and continues to hamper American intelligence operations in Iraq and around the world, said Representative Rush D. Holt, a New Jersey Democrat who is a member of the House Intelligence Committee. Full Story

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